Scientist - News - 26-02-2009:«Back
Probiotic spray against middle ear infections (Otitis media)
A recent Swedish study suggests that a nasal spray containing Streptococcus sanguinis combats middle ear infections. Another effective treatment against this condition, according to Finnish research, is oral intake of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis.
Middle ear infections are a common and distressing condition in young children. It is yet unknown why young children are so prone to this condition. Some suggest that the cause lies in the early-life anatomy of the Eustachian tubes (the passages that connect the middle ear to the back of the throat), which may prevent excess fluid to drain away. The infection usually causes swelling, which makes the condition painful. Recurrent infections are commonly treated through insertion of a small plastic tube into the eardrum to help drain the excess fluid. These tubes, however, have been associated with minor hearing loss later in life.
Nasal spray and oral intake
A recent study carried out at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) investigated the effect of probiotic nasal spray on middle ear infections. In this pilot study, sixty children with persistent middle ear infections, who were scheduled for tube insertion, were randomised to nasal spray treatment with Streptococcus sanguinis, Lactobacillus rhamnosus or placebo for ten days before surgery. In the S. sanguinis group, 37% recovered completely or significantly within ten days, versus 17% in the L. rhamnosus group and 6% in the placebo group. For S. sanguinis this effect was statistically significant. The authors, who published their study in the February issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood, call for further research to support these findings, noting that the mechanism for the effect remains to be investigated.
A Finnish study in the British Journal of Nutrition (December) identified another remedy against middle ear infections in early life: oral intake of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-12. Researchers from the University of Turku studied a group of formula-fed infants, half of whom were supplemented with these two probiotic strains. They found two significant effects: during the first seven months of life, 22% of infants receiving probiotics experienced an acute middle ear infection, versus 50% in the control group; antibiotics were prescribed for 31% in the probiotic group versus 60% in the placebo group. These researchers, too, call for further research into these relationships.